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Friday, 2-Jul-2004 00:00
Noodle shops, old and new.. And Ostrich Noodles!
Note: The ostrich noodle place didn't make it, I think it has closed. Yet the other 'old style' basic shop keeps running strong... This is SO typical! Some old places just keep going and going without ANY change or as much as some new paint here and there.. :)

Without a doubt, THE most popular dish in Thailand for lunch or even other times of the day and night has got to be 'kuaytiow', Noodle Soup. I've talked about them before, from a 3 baht noodle shop to perhaps the most popular one in Chiang Mai. Now for the first time a head to head encounter: old versus new.. :D Be sure to click to see http://chanchao.fotopages.com/?entry=148622&back=http://chanchao.fotopages.com/?page=0(all pictures.)

It's funny to note that when it comes to popularity, the 'appearance' of the shop seems to be completely unimportant. Many of the most popular noodle shops in Thailand look distinctly scruffy, worn out, messy or even dusty/dirty. Yet they're full of people every day.. and making good money! Owners of the most popular shops drive Mercedes Benz cars and send their children to top foreign universities. At times this made me cry out "why not invest a couple of hundred baht into some buckets of paint then!? The place looks grotty, like it hasn't received the most basic of maintenance for decades!" No arguments about the food quality though; at the most popular shops this is consistently high and service is blazing fast.

Then I ran into this new little shop I talk about today. It's still a noodle shop, but there's paint on the wall! There's a style and theme to the place, nice decorations, not just things that happened to linger around by chance for 30 odd years! It all looks nice and bright, and food and service are good too. It's called 'Hor Jia' and is on Chang Klan road right in between Bangkok Bank and Krung Thai bank. (Close proximity to plenty of middle-class bank employees is a dream location for any noodle shop)

For comparison with an old style noodle shop (and there are hundreds of these), I went to a shop called Daeng Ocha the day after, to shoot some pics for comparison. Daeng Ocha is next to Sanpakhoi market and a perfect example of a place where nobody ever dwelled on decorations or maintenance for more time than it takes to change the calendar to a new one on January 1st, or to glue the latest Coke or Pepsi poster to the wall. Funnily enough it is also a stone's throw to the Krung Thai and Bangkok Bank branches on Charoen Muang road..

Without a doubt Daeng Ocha makes far more money. I had to wait for a small seat on the side to become available.

Back to Hor Jia. They do very good noodles with pork meat, stewed with Chinese spices. But there's also a surprise on the menu: Noodles with ostrich meat!! Ostrich meat has been a bit of a fad the last couple of years, you find it occasionally on the menu as a substitute for beef, but I don't feel that it's ever become very popular. Do try it though, it's kind of nice when prepared the same style as stewed Chinese pork or beef! In addition they serve OK dim sum for 20 baht per tray of 2 pieces. Pork noodles go for 30 baht, ostrich noodles 40 baht. At Daeng Ocha, regular beef stew noodles go for 25 baht. Both places serve unsweetened iced tea for free.

Hor Jia is on Chang Klan road, South of the night bazar, in between the Krung Thai Bank and Bangkok Bank on the right hand side of the road. Daeng Ocha is in the soi off Jaroen Muang road that leads to Sanpakhoi Market and the Kawila Barracks. After crossing Nawarat bridge go straight at the traffic lights, then at the next traffic lights turn right. (At the Krung Thai bank on the corner)

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